We are all born with the perfect tool for mindfulness. One that is with us all the time, that we can connect with wherever we are, whatever we are going through, and that will never let us down: it’s our breath.Rose Elliot

Breathing is the involuntary process of inhaling and exhaling, essential for maintaining the homeostasis of the body. On average a human breathes about 22,000 breaths a day. When feeling anxious or stressed, breathing becomes faster, and only after a negative event do we consciously slow down our breath to regain calmness. However, amidst all these breaths, how many are truly satisfying? How often do we take mindful, consciously aware breaths?

Mindful breathing entails being aware of your breath and focusing your attention on your breath. By practising mindful breathing, you can remain in the present moment. Often, the mind is preoccupied with passing thoughts, making it challenging to relax and calm down.

However, when we breathe mindfully, we allow thoughts and emotions to come and go without becoming entangled in them. Thich Nhat Hanh, a Zen Buddhist Monk, has developed 16 techniques for practising mindful breathing, ranging from simple mindful breathing to achieving nirvana. Now, let’s explore two breathing exercises that promote mindful breathing, leading to a positive and peaceful outcome.

Exercise 1:

Find a quiet place which is free of any distractions, sit down with eyes closed, spine straight and an openness to embrace the calmness and mindfulness that you are seeking. Through closed eyes focus your attention on the tip of your nose.

Notice your breath going in and coming out. Do this for a few breaths and then think the following words when you breathe in “Breathing in, I know I am breathing in”, and when you breathe out, “Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.”

When you repeat these words it helps to keep the mind on your breath and you can focus better on the present moment. As you continue breathing, become more aware of what you are experiencing in the present moment and feel the calmness that sets in. You will notice that the quality of your breaths gradually becomes slower and deeper. You can repeat this exercise two to three times till it becomes a part of your nature.

Exercise 2:

This exercise helps in getting awareness towards the whole body as you continue breathing deeply and slowly. As you generate mindful energy through breathing, use it to focus on becoming more aware of your whole body.

Repeat the words as you breathe in “Breathing in, I am aware of the whole body” and as you breathe out “Breathing out, I am aware of the whole body”. As you repeat those words, notice the awareness created in the body. Mind and body become one reality living in the present. You will experience a feeling of oneness, peace and harmony. Repeat the above exercise two to three times a day to strengthen the mind-body connection through mindful breathing.

Breathing is a continuous process, and our minds are always filled with thoughts. Our bodies and minds are never at rest, but practising mindful breathing allows us to refocus on the present. In today’s fast-paced world, it’s crucial to step back, slow down, and relax. While it may take time to get comfortable with relaxation exercises, committing to daily mindful breathing will clear your mind of unwanted thoughts and foster a sense of oneness within yourself.